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Everyone becomes a professional

Russian Railways' projects on the development of human capital and social policy gain recognition in Russia and CIS
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The 23rd Summit of HR-Directors of Russia and CIS was held in Moscow in the middle of October in conjunction with the 2nd Forum on Sustainable Development of Territories and Human Potential. The summit's program included discussions of human capital development, social policy and ESG agenda. Several projects of Russian Railways became the winners of HR Award 2022 and ESG Excellence Award 2022 among the best HR and ESG projects. 

How to spend the bonus package

A unique project of Russian Railways in the field of non-material motivation system that has no analogues in the country or in the world - «Bonus Package» - received the highest award of «Crystal Pyramid» in the nomination «HR Project of the Year». It combines all areas of activity,» Yulia Alekseeva, the head of Russian Railways' Social Development Department, told «1520 International». 

«The project is designed to improve the company's efficiency and motivate the development of employees' potential. It promotes their involvement in solving corporate tasks, including production tasks, increasing everyone's performance, and involving them in self-development», she continued. 

Personal interest in their own results is also growing. Activity in significant company events gives the employees points, and then they can exchange them for benefits - corporate offers of Russian Railways and its partners. This year more than 150 employees have already exchanged their points for corporate offers, while the total number of active participants is 56,000, with about 2,000 unique corporate offers available to them. The greatest demand is for health resort recreation opportunities and souvenir products. 

Invitations to youth rallies and educational programs are also popular. The authors and managers of the project plan to reach 100 percent coverage. They will also need to simplify some processes and achieve full digitalization.

A guide to benefits

Russian Railways' social policy is aimed at taking care of employees, their family members and non-working retirees. 

«Russian Railways took the second place in the nomination «Organization with the Best Social Policy». The main tool is the holding company's collective agreement, which regulates social and labor relations, ensures stability in labor teams, determines the volume of guarantees, benefits and compensations and the list of persons entitled to receive them», Evgeny Pospelov, first deputy head of Russian Railways' Social Development Department, told «1520 International».

The company's collective bargaining agreement for 2023-2025 is being actively discussed and formed. It will retain all social guarantees and benefits, as well as support for the volunteer movement, youth councils and representatives of railway dynasties, said Evgeny Pospelov. The holding company has decided to preserve social and labor guarantees for the employees called up for military service during mobilization or those who signed a contract for voluntary assistance in the fulfillment of the tasks of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and their family members, stipulated by the collective agreement and local regulations of Russian Railways. Mechanisms have been developed to provide benefits and compensation to family members without the participation of employees. A benefits guide is now being formed.

Students have come to BAM

«The modernization of the Baikal-Amur Mainline is of special significance for the development of the country's economy. This is one of the most important projects, which is certainly interesting for students; many of them want to go to the legendary construction site, as the previous generations did, and contribute to the production process.  A memorandum of cooperation between the Youth National Non-Governmental Organization «Russian Student Teams» and Russian Railways was signed last June at the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. This document formed the basis of a large-scale project of the national student construction project called «BAM 2.0,» Alexander Zbarsky, deputy head of Russian Railways’ Personnel Management Department, told 1520 International. 

Last summer, for the first time in the history of the student team movement, the National Labor Semester of Railway Student Teams was opened. The holding company's executives personally presented the teams with vouchers to the company's most important projects. 

More than 15,000 spectators watched the ceremony on social networks, and more than 800 people were present at five sites in different regions of the country. More than 1,300 students from railway universities and technical colleges participated in the development of the BAM railway infrastructure facilities. They went to the facilities of the mainline being fully prepared - they were vaccinated, had medical examinations, were trained for vocational professions and had briefings on labor protection and fire safety, underlined Alexander Zbarsky. 

As a result, student teams installed 58 kilometers of string-rail, collected 35 kilometers of rail-tie, replaced 32 kilometers of wooden sleepers, corrected 15 depressions and twists on stone bed, performed ballast replacement work in sleeper boxes, corrected 142 overhead power line towers, and repaired 14 cable lines and electrical equipment. Notably, Russian Railways' national student project «BAM 2.0» won the Grand Prix in the nomination «Best Project/Program for Involving Young People in Positive Changes» at the HR-Directors Summit of Russia and the CIS.

The uniqueness of the project, continued the interlocutor of «1520 International» Alexander Zbarsky, is that the students not only performed the work, but also mastered new professional skills necessary for their chosen specialty, and could also enjoy the natural landscapes of the regions along BAM, find new friends, show their talents and, of course, earn good money during the summer vacations. 

All members of student teams want to come back here next year, and many of them are even ready to move to the mainline after graduation. The closing ceremony of the summer labor semester was held during Russian Railways' 14th annual youth rally in early October. An open enrollment to student construction teams for the next summer season is scheduled for November at the Gostiny Dvor with Russian Railways intending to participate in this event.

Railwaymen in the education system

Russian Railways' project «Space of Creation», which won the third place at the Summit of HR-directors of Russia and the CIS in the nomination «HR-Project of the Year in State and Municipal Management», is aimed at creating a special educational environment in kindergartens, schools and universities. 

«The peculiarity of the «Space of Creation» project is that it is a new format of profile interaction between Russian Railways and the industry education system. We create special comfortable spaces (branded lecture halls and classes) in universities and schools for career guidance,» Alexander Zbarsky told «1520 International». 

Here students learn, communicate and get better acquainted with the company, its projects and railway professions. This allows them to immerse themselves deeper into the corporate culture of Russian Railways as an innovative company and potential employer. 

Since 2020, more than 100 schools in the country have been implementing the «Russian Railways Class» project. The company pays for the development of the material and technical base of general education institutions and the purchase of laboratory equipment, computer equipment and furniture. Branded railway classes offer the educational program «The Land of Railways», which combines education and career guidance and contains more than 20 types of activities. 

According to Alexander Zbarsky, starting from 2021, specialized railway universities and branches are opening modern branded educational spaces, designed for both educational classes and informal meetings, scientific and entertaining events. The company is opening co-working spaces in industry-specific university complexes - these spaces are designed for youth initiatives and communication among students, independent work and recreation, and student interaction. This is the venue of meetings with student ambassadors and the company's representatives.

Employee competence is the key to everything

At the last Summit of HR-directors of Russia and the CIS, Russian Railways also received a silver award in the nomination «Corporate Training of the Year». 
The railwaymen received an award in the nomination «Corporate Training of the Year» due to a set of projects focused on the improvement of professional competences of its employees. 

«I will start with the project «Knowledge Hour», which allows to develop theoretical knowledge. We gave each employee of the company an opportunity to study remotely, within an allocated hour of work time, what is necessary for performance of labor duties both within and outside technical training», - Maria Savina, the Deputy Head of Personnel Management Department of Russian Railways clarified the approach of the authors of the projects for «1520 International». 

The efficiency is based on three components. First, all the courses and training materials are developed by experts, taking into account the regulatory documents requirements. Second, the distance learning course ends with testing, which allows the employee to assess how well he or she has mastered the studied material. Third, the employee is offered a convenient format of short training courses in the distance learning system. He or she can get specific knowledge on professional topics at any time, from any device, anywhere in the country. So far 760 Knowledge Hour courses have been developed.

One of the significant advantages is that distance learning provides a wide coverage. Twelve branches have joined the project, and over 200,000 employees have already been involved. Courses are developed for specific models of professional competencies, and there may be more than 400,000 participants in the future. To expand the audience, it is planned to enlist the support of managers, who should be involved in the process of training their subordinates and demonstrate by personal example the importance of training and a serious attitude towards the project.

Tens of thousands of mentors

The other two projects that were considered by the judging panel were aimed at improving practical skills, said Maria Savina. The «Professional Mentoring» project made it possible to update and make more friendly the system of professional mentoring, which today involves more than 77,000 mentors. 

There are three principles here: first, skill groups are developed for each position, i.e. now there is an obligatory minimum list of practical skills that the mentor must teach and the mentee must master. This list is unified for each position and in fact is a mentoring plan. Now the company has already developed 98 skill groups for 27 positions. The second principle is the mentor's independence. The mentor decides for himself how to prepare the mentee and how to give him the practical tools he needs to work independently. Third, there is a special format of assessment - a demo day, when the mentee demonstrates in real conditions to the commission of managers what he has learned.

Updating the professional mentoring system is a new project launched this year and now being tested in seven main production branches (Central Traffic Control Directorate, Central Infrastructure Directorate, Traction Directorate, Transenergo, High-Speed Traffic Directorate, Central Rolling Stock Directorate, and Central Track Repair Directorate).

Championship for pros

There is one more project aimed at the development of practical skills, about which Maria Savina told «1520 International». This is a corporate championship of professional skills held by Russian Railways since 2020. Competitions with practical tasks allow to maintain the competence of active employees. The main advantage is that the competitions make it possible not only to assess the level of practical skills, but also to identify the best ones; this helps raise the prestige and importance of vocational professions, as well as motivates employees to develop and provides an opportunity to exchange experience. 

More than 130 contests are held annually throughout the railway network attended by more than 9,000 employees. In 2023 a large-scale final of the Corporate Championship will be held in Yekaterinburg to become a new step in the development of the project and a unique event for the company. More than 1,500 participants will try their hand at four sites.

Russian Railways teams actively participate and win in national contests, for example, in the Innovators Cup or the Hitech International Championship of High-Tech Professions. This provides another opportunity to objectively assess the level of training of Russian Railways employees in comparison with other companies. 

Dmitry Khrapovitsky

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